The pros and cons of telecommuting or the work-from-home arrangement in the Philippines

January 14, 2019 - 10:26 AM
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Telecommuting Act Interaksyon
The new Telecommuting Act allows the government to establish a legal framework for the working arrangement. (Pixabay)

The work-from-home program of the private sector will now be regulated by virtue of the recently signed Republic Act No. 11165 or the Telecommuting Act.

The measure that President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law last year is not new as many private companies have been practicing this work arrangement in recent years respective of their own guidelines.

At least 70 percent of employees in the world was found to have been working somewhere outside the office at least one day per week, according to the recent IWG Flexible Working Survey.

While the number of Filipinos currently working remote is yet to be determined, it could be observed that companies offering freelance work are rising online.

Some Filipinos who have already been working from home expressed their delight at telecommuting being legitimate under Philippine law.

Malacañang likewise said that telecommuting can ease traffic conditions in Metro Manila and other urban areas.

“With its full implementation, we are optimistic that this arrangement can also contribute in easing the traffic conditions in Metro Manila and in other urban areas,” Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

Pros and cons

According to Monster.com, an international employment website, some people prefer working from home because of the independence or freedom it offers as compared to being inside an office.

“Working from home means you’ll learn to rely on self-motivation, self-discipline, focus, and concentration,” the article said.

Working from home or remotely also saves workers from the hassle of commuting, thus allowing them to make use of the time to do more tasks.

However, there are also challenges as the article points out, specifically to the separation of work life and home life for full-time telecommuters.

“Whether it’s picking up on the best practices of your colleagues or having an impromptu brainstorming session over lunch, it’s hard to replicate that from home,” the article said.

Another study also found that such flexible arrangement leads to employees’ positive outlook and higher performance. There are specific differences, however, if it was provided in a formal or informal manner.

Work-from-home when negotiated in an informal process,  an agreement only between a person and an employer, results in high performance. Alternately, an employee working remotely based on the formal policies of the company or organization he or she is working at often renders a poor performance.

Researchers inferred that informal flexibility helps establish a close business relationship between a worker and the supervisor or manager. Meanwhile, employees working with formal schemes tend to slack off due to the lack of supervision.

“Since the positive outcomes from having a flexible working arrangement were not subject to the duration of the flexible working arrangement, it appears that autonomy is important in understanding the link with employee attitudes and performance is less likely to dilute over time,” the researchers said.

What does the law say?

The term telecommuting is defined in the Telecommuting Act as a “work arrangement that allows an employee in the private sector to work from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication and/or computer technologies.”

Sen. Joel Villanueva, the principal author of it, said that the new legislation allows lawmakers to establish a legal framework to ensure a safe treatment between both telecommuters and office employees.

This includes the rate of pay, amount of workload, access to career development and equal rights as workers.

The Department of Labor and Employment is tasked to establish the measure’s implementing rules and regulations.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines welcomed this alternative work scheme, particularly for those persons with disabilities.

“However, these rights must be ensured in the drafting of its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) as spearheaded by the Labor department,” TUCP President Raymond Mendoza said.

For him, the rights of workers should still be upheld regardless of the working environment.